Today is the first anniversary of the passing of Nigel Harris.
I’d only known ‘Little Nige’ since 2012 when I started standing in the Cow Shed and he would chat to anyone like he’d known them for years. He was very accepting of anyone and only too happy to chat about Billericay Town.
He’d told me that he first went to see Town play in 1968 as he lived near the team’s goalkeeper. Within a few years he had become a regular at Blues matches and went to Wembley for all three Vase finals.
He had started working part time for the club either selling programmes or escorting the club mascot around the ground. Nige was a regular member of The Blues travelling support and had a great knowledge of the club’s history from the last 50 years, recalling incidents and players going back to the 1970’s.
On 23 December 2017 Billericay’s travelling support were preparing to head to Burgess Hill and began to wonder where Nigel was. People started ringing round and the bad news started to spread that Nigel had died peacefully in his sleep. Mark Kettlety had to break the news to many people, he described it as one of the most difficult tasks of his life.
That afternoon The Blues fought out a 4-3 victory. Jake Robinson and Harry Wheeler took to social media to dedicate the win to Nigel.
Many Billericay fans used Twitter and Facebook to post their memories of Little Nige. Several ex-players expressed their sadness at his passing and so did Jon Read (@OfficialClarets) and Chelmsford City F.C. who would both have got to know Nigel when City shared New Lodge.
Thurrock came to town on Boxing Day. Blues fans started singing about Nigel on the 57th minute as Jake Robinson scored the only goal of the match.
One of the best attendances of the season took place on Friday 26 January 2018 at Nigel’s funeral in Brentwood. It was standing room only as over 200 people turned up to say their goodbyes before heading back to the clubhouse.
Hardly a match goes by where Nigel isn’t mentioned and remembered. He was a small man but he made a very big impact on the club, on those that were lucky enough to know him and the town where he could regularly be seen. I still look out for him when I walk along the High Street!
Gone but definitely not forgotten